The possibility of the transfer of chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon’s Hezbollah or al-Qaeda-inspired groups could provoke Israel to launch a preemptive strike on Syria, reports indicate. The Jerusalem Post notes that Israel is currently on high alert as the potential for such a strike looms.
Israel has publicly voiced concerns that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might lose control of his chemical weapons in the midst of the Syrian civil war that is almost two years old.
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom states that Israeli’s top security officials held a special meeting on Sunday to discuss Syria’s chemical weapons. According to Shalom, the transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons to violent groups such as Hezbollah may prompt Israel to attack:
The concept, in principle, is that this [chemical weapons transfer] must not happen. The moment we begin to understand that such a thing is liable to happen, we will have to make decisions [about a preemptive stike]. It would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach, including even action.
On January 27, Israel deployed its Iron Dome rocket defense system in the northern city of Haifa, an act that the military called “routine.” The Huffington Post notes,
Iron Dome, an Israel-developed system that shoots down incoming short-range rockets, was used to defend Israeli cities during a round of hostilities with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, on Israel’s southern flank, last November.
Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy head of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency, asserts that his country has been closely monitoring developments in Syria to ensure that weapons are not falling into the “wrong hands.” He told Army Radio,
Syria has a massive amount of chemical weapons, and if they fall into hands even more extreme than Syria like Hezbollah or global jihad groups it would completely transform the map of threats.
Though Syria has not clearly acknowledged that it is in possession of chemical weapons, Israeli officials are preparing for the worst possible scenario.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the necessity to carefully observe Syria and Iran during a Cabinet meeting on Sunday.
"We must look around us, at what is happening in Iran and its proxies and at what is happening in other areas, with the deadly weapons in Syria, which is increasingly coming apart," he advised.
A military strike from Israel could trigger all-out war. Last week, Iran issued a warning to Israel.
"Syria has a very basic and key role in the region for promoting firm policies of resistance.... For this reason an attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran's allies," said Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the Mehr news agency.
"If the Syrian President Bashar Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken," Ali Akbar Velayati, who is seen as a potential contender in Iran's June presidential election, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. "If Assad falls, Iran and Iraq are next in line," he added.
Meanwhile, alleged hacked e-mails from defense contractor Britam reveal a plan that is “approved by Washington” to stage a chemical weapons attack in Syria and blame it on the Assad regime, which would ultimately fulfill what the Obama administration has dubbed the “red line” that would compel U.S. military intervention.
A hacker in Malaysia has reportedly obtained e-mails between Britam Defence’s David Goulding and the company’s founder Philip Doughty:
We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.
We’ll have to deliver a CW [Chemical Weapon] to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have. They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?
The e-mails indicate that a false-flag chemical weapons attack may be in the works that would be blamed on the Assad regime.
While the legitimacy of these hacked e-mails has yet to be confirmed, it has been no secret that the Obama administration has supported the Syrian rebels. Just hours after President Obama’s reelection, British Prime Minister David Cameron called upon the United States and its allies to “shape the opposition” into a more effective army and expedite the overthrow of the Assad regime:
"There is an opportunity for Britain, for America, for Saudi Arabia, Jordan and like-minded allies to come together and try to help shape the opposition, outside Syria and inside Syria. And try to help them achieve their goal, which is our goal of a Syria without Assad.
The Obama administration has already been found to have engaged in disinformation campaigns regarding the Assad regime. In June, for example, U.S. officials claimed that Russia had been shipping weapons to Syria. However, the New York Times later reported that a senior Defense Department official admitted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had intentionally made false claims regarding a shipment of Russian weapons in order to “put the Russians in a difficult position.”
Members of Congress and of the Obama administration have been looking to get involved in Syria, citing mostly humanitarian reasons such as the massacre of over 90 people in Houla. Immediately, the United States, France, Great Britain, and Germany blamed al-Assad for the killings and expelled Syria's ambassadors from their countries.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declared,
We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives. This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government's flagrant violations of its U.N. Security Council obligations.
But later reports increasingly pointed to evidence that the massacre was not in fact caused by al-Assad, but by anti-al-Assad rebel forces. National Review reported:
According to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.